Boonville's Black Maria exposed

Many may remember the Black Maria event in 1970 which was used to promote a Boonville Area Chamber of Commerce event called Moonlight Madness. The idea for the Black Maria came from a Boonville Daily News edition in the 1930s which depicted a man dressed up in a large black coat and hat with a boy on his shoulder. He would go around the Water Street area of Boonville scaring people before Halloween. Local resident Ed Scrivner who may know more than anyone about the Black Maria said after researching this tory in the old papers, they decided to portray this individual. "It came out that this was the Black Maria. We decided to do the promotion around this story and added that the Black Maria had come back to find his long lost lover, Lavender Lacretia," Scrivner said. The idea was to get the public prepared throughout October for the Moonlight Madness event on October 31 when shops would be open until midnight. "There were no malls back then so people usually stayed and spent their money in Boonville," Scrivner said. The Black Maria made appearances throughout October in Boonville. Some of the appearances included scarring people at the high school, running across the field at a football game at Harley Park and showing himself on top of buildings in downtown. "He even wrote a note to the paper saying that he was not here to hurt anybody but here to find his long lost lover Lavender Lacretia and if he did not find her by nine in the evening on October 31st he was going to jump from a tall building in Boonville," Scrivner said. Scrivner said that although many knew that this was a promotion some people, including small children and younger people, got scared every time there was an appearance. By October 31, the Black Maria had no success in finding his lost love. Scrivner said that around 2,000 people gathered in the street as the Black Maria made an appearance on top of the Ben Franklin Store now Zuzac Wonder Store, waiting for him to jump off the building. "When he left the top of the building, there were yells saying to jump. As soon as the creature flew off the building, there was dead silence. They took their breath in and once they heard the 'dummy' hitting the ground, they cheered and yelled and it was over," Scrivner said. The following year Scrivner said that they tried to bring Lavender back to find the Black Moria but it did not have the same effect.